In 2019, the stories on this blog will follow the lives of Mark & Arian. This great couple is representative in many ways of the people who have sought my support over the years that I have practised as a counsellor. Like many couples, Mark and Arian have relationship problems, personal struggles and family issues. However, they also have strength, insight and resilience. They have good intentions, the capacity to love, and a willingness to change and grow. Like others, they too get stuck—sometimes more than once—on the pain and hurt of the past.
This vignette will give you some background information to help make sense of the journey they are on, and how they deal with their trials and tribulations over the coming year. I hope you enjoy sharing in some of their struggles, insights and growth, but most of all, I hope you will find their story inspirational for your own journey through life.
Mark is 41 years old, has two older brothers, and comes from a farming background. He owns his own farm equipment business. His parents live together on the farm where he grew up. In their seventies now, they are moving toward retirement and need to sort out succession planning. One of Mark’s brothers is with them on the farm. The other lives interstate with his family.
Mark’s dad was never big on words. He expected to get respect and believes in hard work. Mark’s dad spent his whole life providing for the family but wasn’t heavily involved in raising the boys. However, he took them fishing, taught them to drive cars and tractors, and was generally there to meet their physical needs. Mark’s mother was a stay-at-home mum, and later took on a job as a secretary when she felt the boys were old enough. She is friendly and ‘supportive’, but also—especially now she is getting older—a bit clingy. She tends to manipulate Mark into coming to visit them on the farm to spend time together. Of the three brothers, Mark feels the strongest sense of obligation to tend to her needs.
Mark was bullied at school, first when he was around 10, and then again in High School. At the time, he didn’t talk to his parents about it and felt like he needed to deal with it himself. Mark doesn’t think he had a lot of emotional needs growing up. The only time he went ‘off the track’ was in his late teens when he spent his time hangout out with mates at parties and drinking too much. When Mark was 17, his cousin drove him home from a party drunk. He crashed the car and died in the accident. Mark and another friend survived the crash with minor injuries.
Arian is 43 and married Mark 15 years ago. She comes from a middle-class, working background and has a degree in business. Her dad lives in Sydney. Her mom passed away from cancer when Arian was 12. Arian’s dad remarried and had two children with his new wife, whom she gets along okay. Arian is distant from her father, but visits because she believes it’s ‘the right thing to do’. She doesn’t have many memories of her mother before she fell ill and needed support but has a loving and soft feeling when she thinks of her. When Arian was 14, her dad remarried, and while she loves her step-siblings and step-mother, she sometimes feels sad and alone when she goes to visit them.
Arian is very organised. She helps Mark with his business and runs her own small marketing business from home as well. Together, they have three children: Ella, 8; Brent,10; and James, 15. Arian is primarily in charge of looking after the kids. Before James was born, Arian had a miscarriage in the 20th week of her pregnancy. The causes of this are unknown.
Arian and Mark first met at a friend’s party and started dating very quickly. They moved in together two years after they met. They had a lot to share in the beginning. Arian loved Mark’s attentive ways and how he looked after her. They had fun together and shared interests including bushwalking and travelling. The sex was great. Mark loved Arian’s caring ways, her laugh, and how she could make people feel at ease around her. He knew she would be a great mum to his children.
After 17 years, however, their relationship looks less fresh and exciting, having travelled along the bumpy road of life.
So this is where we meet this couple and their family: in the midst of living this curious combination of active decision-making and reactive surviving that most of us get stuck in somewhere along the way.